The almost 350-page report extensively outlines ways the Toronto police can best deal with those having an emotional or mental crisis without having to use lethal force.
Retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci consulted with former police officers and other forces around the world to build the 84 recommendation "Police Encounters with People in Crisis."
Some of the recommendations include:
• have Toronto Police revise it's Use of Force policy to minimize the use of lethal force and use it as a last resort, stressing the importance of keeping people alive;
• start a pilot project that would give Tasers to some front-line officers who would also be equipped with body-cameras;
• consider expanding the Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams to have one available per division and if they should be available 24-hours a day. These teams include a uniformed officer and a nurse;
• have Toronto Police create a police and mental health oversight body that includes membership from the force and hospitals;
• educate officers on available mental health resources;
• have officers complete a mandatory mental health first aid course;
• recruit new officers with experience with the mental health community as well as demonstrate community-mindedness. Police should include psychologists in the recruitment process;
• consider creating a quick-reference checklist for when officers deal with people in crisis;
• consider decentralized training which is platoon-specific;
• have a 'Mental Health Champion' - one supervisor in each division experienced in these issues;
• create incentives and reward officers who properly use de-escalation techniques;
• have the force acknowledge and emphasize the importance of psychological wellness among officers;
• create an advisory committee on how best to implement these recommendations.
These are only recommendations. Police Chief Bill Blair has said it will be used as a blueprint on how the force will move forward.
One recommendation that has already been implemented is the launch of an advisory committee.
“We have taken this recommendation to heart and believe by immediate implementation, we can start the important work if implementing the other recommendations,” said Blair.
It's made up of people representing hospitals, community mental health organizations, police and those with lived experience of mental illness.
NEWSTALK 1010 spoke to Steve Lurie, the executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Toronto branch. He was named as one of the committee members and said some of the biggest issues will be underfunding and health care information sharing.
Lurie said there has been no initial meeting date planned.
The report recommends a follow-up review in five years.